Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Needlework Tuesday - Snowed in

Needlework Tuesday is an occasional post detailing my needlework and/or crafting projects.

Since we are snowed for the day (or days), I figured it was a good time to write a blog post. I had two appointments scheduled in the city today and I'm not pleased that I had to cancel them at the last moment, but what can you do when a blizzard hits and they close the highway.   It had temporarily stopped snowing and blowing in this picture, but has since picked up again.  sigh.












It's been awhile since I last posted, so I have lots to report on today. Two new projects showed up from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month and another one that I had ordered finally arrived.

The first project from the club is a Grey/White/Silver poncho.


I debated long and hard over this one and waffled back and forth as to whether or not I wanted to make this item. On one hand, I don't really like the style.  The holes are HUGE!  I can fit my hand through them.  On the other hand, though, casting off and on in the middle of a project is something new to try. And try I did. I started it twice and I got to the second row of holes before abandoning the project altogether.  Perhaps if the holes were smaller I could have lived with the results, but as is...nope. I've made something else with the yarn, but I'll leave that for another day.

The second project is a multi-coloured Saturate Entrelac Cowl.


I just received this yesterday. I won't be making it and will use the yarn for another project. I've already learned how to do entrelac on a baby blanket and while I liked doing it, I don't want to do it again...not on this project. I already have an oversized cowl that I don't wear.  It's not my thing.

The additional project I ordered is a Top Down Vest from Mary Maxim.


It's supposed to be an EASY project knitted from the top down...hence the name. I've started it and I'm already stumped...on ROW 3. I'm sure I'll figure it out, but not a great first impression.  I don't have a great photo of the yarn, but it's a really rich marbled blend of colours. Hopefully, I can show that better at a later date.

In the past few weeks, I've worked on a couple of previously started projects. The first one is a multi-coloured summer clutch.


This was another project from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month. The white edging was the only thing that was outstanding and I procrastinated on doing it because I thought it was going to be difficult. It was, but not for the reasons I thought.  I won't bore you with the details other than to say that the pattern was misleading and not very helpful.  I don't know if I'm going to use it, though. I'm going to put it away until spring and decide then.

The other project I worked on is the shawl called Jette from Drops Design on ravelry.com.


I was using up some leftover yarn from other projects, but had run out of one colour and had to order more.  Now, that I've received it I can continue. I don't have much left to complete, so I should be able to finish that up this week.

This coming week, I'm going to finish the shawl above as well as continue work on vest, if I can figure out the pattern.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts.    If you'd done any crafting this week that you'd like to share with others, please head over to Heather's blog and use the Mr. Linky to link up your post, so others can enjoy your creations.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Win Socks for Life from Yarn Canada

Recently, I was made aware of Yarn Canada's Win Socks for Life! contest. It's open to residents of both Canada and the U.S. For details and a link to enter, read on.  There's a deadline for entries, Wednesday, December 7, 2016, so read quickly.

Here's the press release from Yarn Canada:

Win Socks for Life! Well the yarn, you’re on your own after that.

(Vancouver, BC) “To be fair, it’s actually only a 25 year supply, so we can only hope the winner dies early to keep me an honest woman.” - Nikki Smith, VP YarnCanada.ca

After extensive research YarnCanada.ca discovered two key issues which continue to plague the world which we’d like to help bring to an end.
  • Some people have hobbies other than knitting (idiots) 
  • Other (marginally insane) people buy socks at Costco
With one final blow we’ll give someone years of knitting and make it so they never need to succumb to Fruit of the Loom again.” - Robert Matherson, YarnCanada.ca

Don’t want to use all the yarn to make socks? That’s okay, no hard feelings.

Yes, some marriages may end as the winner ignores her husband in a multi-year knitting frenzy. But that’s simply a risk we must take. On the other hand, maybe getting non-terrible socks for Christmas could bring families closer together.

The prize will go to whomever can show how their life will most be changed by winning and what you will do with the prize.

Anything could happen:

I’ll use the yarn to start a knitting business on Etsy!” - Beth C, Winnipeg

My friends always get together to watch The Bachelor, but goodness it’s boring, now I’ll have something to do to keep me distracted.” - Janet G, Toronto

Honestly I have no self control. With all that yarn I’ll knit non-stop, stay up for days and miss work. I’ll get fired, not be able to pay rent and get kicked out of my apartment. But… I’d have so many socks!” - Samantha T, Vancouver

I’ll knit them all up as fast as I can and give them to charity.” – Nicole

Whatever the reason, let us know why knitting is important to you and how a lifetime supply of sock yarn would change your life.

Look here read more about the contest and to enter: Enter to Win a Lifetime Supply of Socks.

Of course, I've already entered. Did you see all of the yarn?



Here's what I said:

"Socks for life? If I were to win, I'd probably kiss the delivery man and then have a smile on my face for weeks delighting in all of that yarn. It would be like heaven!! Seriously, I knit every day, but can't imagine I'd be able to use it all in my lifetime. Perhaps, I'd share a few skeins with friends or maybe donate some to a school or senior centre."

Since learning of the contest, I've been surfing the web looking for projects that I'm going to make when I win. I'll probably make a few pairs of socks, of course, but I'm also eyeing a scarf, a shawl (surprise, surprise!!) as well as some fingerless mitts, and a hat. Sock yarn is so versatile that the sky's the limit when it comes to projects.

So, what will you make if you win? Need ideas? Check out ravelry.

How can you resist?


Really? You're still here? You are probably wondering how to sign up for their newsletter, right? That's easy, go to Yarn Canada's website. Now you are wondering is Yarn Canada is on social media? Yep, they're there, too: Yarn Canada on Facebook and Instagram.

In case you missed the link to enter the contest, here it is again: Enter to Win a Lifetime Supply of Socks.

That's all I got.  Go enter the contest. Or better yet, don't! All of that yarn is mine! Mine, I tell you! Mine!!!  :)   You'll have to excuse me now.  I have to go put on a little lipstick for when the delivery guy gets here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Needlework Tuesday - On Wednesday - Knitting and Blocking

Needlework Tuesday is an occasional post detailing my needlework and/or crafting projects.

This week I worked on a couple of projects.

Last week, I had started another baby hat to use up the remaining yarn from the stuffed Rabbit project. If you remember, I also made a small baby blanket and a hat for a 12-month old. This new hat is supposed to be for a toddler. However, I think it might be a wee bit short, but only by a few rows. I was running out of yarn and may have stretched it a little to get to the desired length before starting the decrease rows for the crown on the hat. I think it'll be okay, though. I like the orange stripe. Here it is:


Anyway, I have about 5 yards of the yarn leftover. Probably just enough to make a pompom tail for the rabbit, which I totally forgot about.

I'm also blocking a shawl I made months ago. It's the first one, Waiting for Rain, in this post. I haven't done a lot of blocking, but a fellow knitter/salesperson at my local yarn store suggested blocking wires.


It looks a bit wonky, but it's the best I could do. It took quite awhile to get the wires threaded and the shawl pinned down. I measured it several times in an attempt to get the sides somewhat symmetrical. I'd measure, move the pins, measure, move the pins, measure....repeat several more times. It wasn't that much fun and being down on the floor for that long hurt my back and hip. I finally said good enough and left it. My main goal was to open up the lace and have it lie flat. I'll let you know how it works out once it's dry.

As for the wires, I've used them a few times now and they seem to be working out. (I consulted Google on how to use them). However, since I haven't done a lot of blocking, I'm not sure. Have you used blocking wires?

And lastly,  I started another shawl called Jette from Drops Design, a free pattern on ravelry.com. This particular version caught my eye. It's beautiful AND uses yarn that I already have leftover from other projects.

A word about the colour: It's medium green and dark rose.  I would have definitely picked different colours had I not been determined to use up some of the yarn in my stash. I had limited options and this was the best colour combination I could come up with.  All week I've been telling myself to think "rose garden" rather than "Christmas".

Here's what I have so far:


It's an asymmetrical shawl that's essentially knit in two parts. After knitting this part, stitches are picked up along the edge with the stitch markers and it's continued from there. My shaping is backwards because of the whole old left-handed, right-handed thing, but I'm hoping it's going to work out regardless.

This week I'm going to continue to work on this shawl. Also, another project from Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month should be showing up any day, so I'll probably take a look at that.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts.    If you'd done any crafting this week that you'd like to share with others, please head over to Heather's blog and use the Mr. Linky to link up your post, so others can enjoy your creations.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Woman in the Photo by Mary Hogan

In The Woman in the Photo, Lee Parker digs into her family's history after her adoption records are unsealed and she sees a photograph of a woman. The photograph shows a woman, who looks like her, standing amidst a pile of rubble next to Clara Barton, the founder of the Red Cross. What she discovers will change her life forever.

I loved this book! It was inspired by a real life disaster in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where a dam in the mountains above the town bursts and floods the town.

The story alternates between the past, 1889, and the present. The past features Elizabeth Haberlin, a young woman of privilege and her life at an exclusive country club in the Allegheny Mountains near Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The present features financially strapped Lee and her adoptive mother as Lee digs into her family's past.

I especially like the sections that take place in the past. The setting and the language used by the author felt authentic to the time period. I loved reading about how the wealthy lived and how the young people of the time were expected to behave. The story also highlights the disparity between the wealthy and the working class of the area.

This story features a person from real life, Clara Barton. I love it when real life people become characters into fictional stories. The author includes a lot about Barton's history and how she founded the Red Cross. All of this information was fascinating.

This edition of the book includes an additional section at the back of the book, which contains information about the author, and the real life story on which the book is based, a reading group guide as well as a book synopsis of Hogan's other book. It's definitely worth the read.

I've also read Two Sisters and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I haven't written my review yet.

Highly recommended. I hope to read another book by this author.

For more information about this book, please visit the HarperCollins website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at William Morrow for this review copy. Sorry the review is so late.

The Woman in the Photo by Mary Hogan William Morrow (HarperCollins), ©2016. ISBN 9780062386939(Trade paperback), 406p.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Needlework Tuesday - Baby Knits

Needlework Tuesday is an occasional post detailing my needlework and/or crafting projects.

Last week, I mentioned that I had lots of yarn leftover from the Mary Maxim knitted rabbit project. I wanted to use up the yarn before it got lost in my stash, so I decided on a small car seat sized baby blanket. It's rather small, roughly 18"x20", but I wasn't sure how much yarn it would take. I probably should have made it bigger. However, I hate running out of yarn in the middle of a project, especially one that I'm only making to use up yarn. Here it is:

If I had known more (or anything for that matter) about "car seat blankets" I would have put a hole in it to accommodate the buckle(?).   Whatever.  It blocked beautifully, even though it looks a little wonky here.

After finishing that, I found a free pattern for a Basic Baby Hat on ravelry.com. The pattern featured 5 sizes. I figured I'd shoot for the middle, 12 months, and see what I had left.


As it turns out, I have more yarn leftover than I realized. Oh well, these hats knit up so quickly I don't mind making another one. I'll start on the next size up and go from there. For me there's no such thing as too much practice with knitting in a round with double pointed needles. Besides, this soft self-striping yarn is fun to play with. So, it's all good.  These items will be donated.

As for next week, have you seen the lovely leaf stitching over at Bayou Quilts? I'm going to use that as inspiration to see what I can come up with. I'll also finish up the baby hat I started and see what other project I can get into.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts.    If you'd done any crafting this week that you'd like to share with others, please head over to Heather's blog and use the Mr. Linky to link up your post, so others can enjoy your creations.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Needlework Tuesday - Rabbit, Scarf, and a bit of lace.

Needlework Tuesday is an occasional post detailing my needlework and/or crafting projects.

This week I worked on three projects, all from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month.

For this first one, I completed the knitting last month, but didn't get around to assembling it until last week. Here's my finished rabbit:

I could have chosen to knit the arms and legs in similar colours so they'd match, at least each other (by winding off some of the self-striping yarn - an option on the pattern), but I opted to just continue knitting with the yarn as is.  At the time, I didn't think it was worth the bother.  However, now that I look at it perhaps it would look more finished or cohesive with matching limbs.

I'm not entirely happy with it, but it's done. The pattern was pretty vague in the finishing of this piece. There was some direction with respect to stuffing the arms and legs, but none for the head or body. The sewing together, the positioning of the limbs, and the facial features were all left up to the individual crafter. Something isn't quite right, but I think I did okay.

One part I really don't like is that the pattern instructs the crafter to make separate eyes and then sew them onto the head. Had I thought about it more, I would have embroidered the eyes instead. As they are constructed now, the eyes are a choking hazard for babies and toddlers. I wish the designers had thought of that or at least mentioned it in the pattern.

Things I don't like about knitting stuffed items:
  • • it's hard to know how much to stuff 
  • • it's hard to get the stuffing evenly distributed 
  • • it never looks like the photo 
  • • it eventually becomes a dust collector 
The kit had enough yarn and stuffing to make two of these rabbits. I don't think I'm going to bother with the second one. I still have quite a bit of yarn left, so I'll be looking for something else to make with the leftovers. Lots of options.

The second item I worked on was the Yin Yang Shawl, October's project, which could also be used as a scarf. I love working in short rows!!!  It turned out okay, I guess. It feels soft and drapes nicely when it's in my hands, but doesn't fit nicely on my shoulders as a shawl and is a little stiff wrapped around my neck as a scarf.  Perhaps some blocking would help??  Anyway, here it is:




At least here you can see the short rows and the subtle colour changes.

The last project I worked on is the lacy Mary Maxim project shawl/scarf I've been working on for months. It's getting a lot easier, but it's still slow going. Here's a close up of the lace:


This week I also took a trip to my local yarn store, which had a 25% off sale on selected colours of Shibui yarns. They're yarns are ultra luxurious and quite pricy, so generally sales have me jumping for joy. This time I actually went to the store with two scarf patterns, so I didn't just add to my stash. The hardest part was combing through the baskets looking for enough yarn to complete the projects I selected. Luckily, I had both my husband and the helpful staff helping me pick colours. I'll feature both of these patterns at a later date.

This coming week I'm going to start a new project. I'm just not sure which one yet. Of course, I hope to continue to work on my lacy shawl/scarf.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts.    If you'd done any crafting this week that you'd like to share with others, please head over to Heather's blog and use the Mr. Linky to link up your post, so others can enjoy your creations.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Needlework Tuesday - Knitting and Blocking

Needlework Tuesday is an occasional post detailing my needlework and/or crafting projects.

Last week I mentioned that I had received two Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month projects. One I completed "as is", the other I made something else with the yarn. 

Well, one of these projects was a shrug. While the wave stitch looked interesting, I've made at least one other shrug like this and I didn't really like the finished garment. It's basically a rectangle with a couple of side seams. Instead, I found this lovely shawl pattern, Hill Island Wrap, that I wanted to try on ravelry.com. Even though they suggested a cotton/wool blend yarn, I decided to use an acrylic/nylon blend from the kit. I knew it wasn't going to be as nice as pictured, but I figured I'd give it a shot.

The whole time I was knitting, I was thinking I'd wet block it. However, I didn't realize that wet blocking doesn't really work on acrylic yarn. So, I tried steam blocking, which was suggested by my friend Google. I didn't exactly follow the instructions, though. I pinned it all down first. Then I hovered my steam iron over the shawl until I emptied the water reservoir twice. I should have taken a "before" photo, but since I wasn't totally convinced it was going to work, I figured it wasn't worth the bother. I didn't realize how much blocking could change an item.  While I don't love the colour combination, it turned out so much better than I thought it would.


The best part is that I have enough yarn leftover to make something else. Perhaps another shawl. ;) 

The other project I mentioned last week was a knitted stuffed rabbit. I haven't finished sewing it together yet, so I'll leave that until next week.

The other thing I mentioned last week was a circular knitting needle set purchase. I was really tired of buying new needles every time (or almost every time) I started a new project. I bought The Interchangeable Circular Knitting Needles Takumi Combo Set from Clover. It was quite pricey, but I'm hoping it's going to be cheaper and worth it in the long run. It includes 12 pairs of bamboo needles: 3.25mm - 6.5mm, 8.0mm, 9.0mm, 10.0mm, as well as 5 cables: 16, 24, 29, 36, and 48 inches. Of course, they are all interchangeable. One of the best features is the zippered leatherette case that'll keep everything together in one spot. There's also a separate segmented plastic envelope for the cables. So far, so good. I've only used one pair of needles (5mm) and the 29" cable. The yarn (cotton/wool/acrylic blend) is sticking a bit to the needles, so it's a little rough on the fingertips, but otherwise I'm happy with the set.

Here's another look at it:


Last week, another project from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month showed up in the mail. It's a scarf/shawl. Here it is:

The  yarn I received is coloured differently than those in the photo. I like the ones I got, "Black Denim" and "Grey", but they don't have a big enough contrast to really tell them apart. I think you'll still see the colour changes, it'll just be really, really subtle. Here's small section:


The thing I dislike most about this project is the pattern. It's horribly written and confusing. It's knit in short rows, so you turn the work before getting to the end of the row. That part I understand. However, after turning the work, you're supposed to "PM on last worked st.". I know the abbreviations, but that doesn't help figuring out what the "last worked stitch" is. Luckily, Patons has a video on the their website explaining exactly how to make this shawl. (Perhaps they know the pattern is confusing). If that's not bad enough, the pattern clearly states that "Sl1" = slip next stitch knitwise, but in the video, the presenter clearly slips the stitch purlwise. She even states that the stitch is to be slipped purlwise.  This isn't such a big deal, but it's confusing as to which it should be.  I'm also having a bit of trouble with the stitch counts, but I'm going to chalk that up to me not keeping track closely enough. Overall, this project is a bit annoying.

Next week, I'm hoping to sew up the bunny rabbit and adjust his stuffing enough to take a photo or two. I'm also going to continue to knit my latest shawl from the Mary Maxim's Knit Club of the Month.

Needlework Tuesday is hosted by Heather over at Books and Quilts.    If you'd done any crafting this week that you'd like to share with others, please head over to Heather's blog and use the Mr. Linky to link up your post, so others can enjoy your creations.